The number of pediatric patients admitted to US hospitals with chronic pain diagnoses increased by 831% from 2004 to 2010. The average patient was a white girl about 14 years old with headaches, abdominal and musculoskeletal pain, and depression and anxiety, according to a study published online July 1 in Pediatrics.
Thomas A. Coffelt, MD, from the Department of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, and colleagues analyzed the de-identified records of 3752 pediatric patients up to 18 years old who were admitted for chronic pain between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2010. The number represented 0.16% of the overall patient population in the Pediatric Health Information System, a database that contains information from 43 not-for-profit pediatric hospitals across the United States.
The researchers used several International Classification of Disease, Ninth Revision (ICD-9), codes to include in their analysis. They excluded patients with diagnoses of cancer, sickle cell disease, burns, and cerebral palsy, as well as ventilator-dependent and neonatal intensive care patients.
Only 235 of the 3752 patients were aged 0 to 7 years. Girls outnumbered boys by 2.41 to 1, and whites accounted for 79% of the study population.
Half of the patients were admitted from the emergency department into the hospital for chronic pain diagnoses, with a mean total of 10 secondary diagnoses per patient. The most common comorbidities were abdominal pain (39% of patients), mood disorders (28%), constipation (20%), nausea/vomiting/diarrhea (18%), anxiety and panic disorders (18%), and headaches (18%).